"UNC called last week," said Watkins' father, Darryl Sr. "Two years ago, when I met with Coach (Matt) Doherty, he (Darryl) seemed excited about it. Since they haven't called when the process got hot and heavy, I don't know whether he felt they didn't want him or what."
The elder Watkins said that doesn't mean that the Tar Heels don't have a legitimate shot. Just that they have some ground to make up.
"When I told him they called recently, he didn't seem disappointed," Watkins Sr. added.
The Paterson Catholic (N.J.) 225-pound center was once considered a strong lean to Villanova. Then to Rutgers. Seton Hall was in the mix, as was Pittsburgh. Those four schools comprise his primary list at this time, with Kentucky and Syracuse also being mentioned.
"This year I think he's been very consistent in his high school season," said Jimmy Salmons, who coaches Watkins in the summer on the Tim Thomas Playaz. "He's coming to play more and he's matured more."
Watkins has been blessed with tons of potential, but he rarely plays with any passion and he needs to play harder for a full game.
He went for 14 points, 13 rebounds and 5 blocks in a head-to-head matchup with future pro Kendrick Perkins at the Slam Dunk to the Beach last month and followed it up with a 18-point, 7-rebound outing against one of the nation's top juniors, Camden Wilcox (Ala.) power forward Mike Williams.
Other than the mental part of the game, some college coaches have expressed concern over whether Watkins would be eligible to play as a freshman. He transferred from Passaic Tech a year ago and will actually attend a hearing tomorrow night to determine whether he'll be eligible for the rest of his senior season.
According to his father, Watkins should also be receiving the results of his standardized test score any day. He was shy about 100 points on his last attempt.
"I think after everyone saw the way he played in Delaware, they are trying to get back on board," Watkins Sr. said. "They are thinking that they should check into it since he hasn't said he's really leaning towards one school."
"I've had a number of kids who were in much worse academic situations than Darryl and were full qualifiers," Salmons added.
Dave Telep, of TheInsidersHoops.com, filed the following scouting report on Watkins this summer -
"He's improving offensively and that's fine but it's his defense we love. Few guys can change the pace and style of play in a game. Watkins can do it. Though he's still not as confident as he should be, Watkins disrupts offenses and intimidates drivers. Against the Hunting Park Warriors, Watkins shut down the lane when he was in the game. When he wasn't, the Warriors were firing darts at the basket like they were aiming a bulls-eye. Insert Watkins, and no one could get to the rim."
***** For more on Watkins, check out the network profile - Darryl Watkins